Take Care What You Ask For...
West led a low diamond, East contributed the jack, and declare
won the king. As he led a low club, declarer said, "I sure hope
the clubs don't split, because if they do we've missed a cold
grand slam." He played the ♣ A
and ♣ K
showing out, and declarer was in a bind. No matter how he twisted, he
had to give up at least two tricks.
This is a common mistake. Declarer was thinking about the contract
he might have been in, rather than the contract he was in. Declarer
only needs five club tricks, and a simple safety play can greatly
increase his chances - all he needs to do is play the a club to
the ten at the second trick. This safety play still assures
you of five tricks in the club suit on any
even or near-even split. The 5-1 and 6-0 splits are the problems.
Eddie Grove has suggested to me that running the ♣ 8
an even better play. The only time it loses over my play is when East
has the stiff ♣ 9
. It has chances to win when West started with
six clubs, or when East has any stiff jack.
But does it win when West has six clubs? It wasn't clear to me
that you could successfully make if clubs split so badly, but you
We will play West for holding and fewer than four spades and fewer than
four hearts. Trick three, we duck a spade. The defense must exit
in spades, diamonds, or clubs.
We win in hand (if a club exit, win in dummy and cross with the
cash the rest of our diamond and spade winners (pitching two clubs from
dummy), then play the ♥ A
and ♥ Q
your top clubs. The position on the last club trick is:
East is caught in a classic showup squeeze, forced to pitch a spade
or else he will be down to a singleton heart.
By keeping the ♦ 5
in dummy, this line also works when West
has four spades. Any time West has a void or singleton heart, you
can take the marked finesse against East's ♥ J
. If West has
two or more hearts, along with six clubs and four spades, West will have
at most one diamond. Once you've cashed the second diamond, this
will become known to you, and you carefully watch to see if East is
forced to part with the diamond guard, rather than the spade guard.
A similar showup squeeze as above occurs.
But this line seems to work however I play the clubs at the second trick,
so I am still not convinced, one way or the other, that playing the
ten is wrong at trick two.